>That Seventies Show: Alu Posto

>
Alu posto is a rare Bengali vegetarian classic. It’s popularity cuts across folks from different communities. But then potatoes are addictive. As are poppy seeds! And no animals are harmed are in its making. So alu posto’s universal popularity is no surprise. And, of course, there is the little detail of it being a very light and delicately flavoured dish.

Intrigued by the ‘Seventies Show’ tag? Well alu posto means potatoes (alu) cooked in poppy seeds (posto). The Flower Child of the food world.

I had not posted this recipe as most Bengali food blogs have it. We served it to Australian food blogger, Spice and More , and her lovely family when they visited us on Sunday night. Mama and Papa loved it and wondered why I hadn’t put up the recipe so far. (The kids were jet lagged and sleeping inside).

Taking up from the earlier poppy discussion, Spice and More told us about how she was once stopped at Singapore airport when she was taking khous khous in for cooking. Now who would explain the magic of Lebanese cooking to the sniffer dogs and their vigilant masters?

I used to count days for my trips back home when I moved into Mumbai. My mom’s alu posto would call out to me.

Survival warranted that I learn to make it myself. It is quite a simple recipe actually which I have learnt through trial and error. I have trained my cook, Banu, to make it. She made yesterday’s version and I must proudly say that she did a very good job of it.

So here’s how you can make a heady alu posto for four:

Ingredients:

  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tea spoon: kalo jeera/ kalonji/ onion seeds/ nigella seeds (different names for the little, black seeds)
  • 1/2 a red onion, shallot … finely chopped
  • 6 potatoes: cubed and parboiled. Parboiling ensures that you don’t have to use too much oil
  • 50 g Posto/ poppy seeds, khus khus in Hindi, Khous Khous in Lebanese: ground into a powder and then made into a thick paste by adding a bit of water
  • Spices: 1 tea spoon each of turmeric and cumin powder. 1/2 tea spoon each of red chilly powder and sugar. 1 tea spoon, or more, of salt
  • 3 green chillies spilt into half
  • 1 table spoon cooking oil. While any oil will do, the traditional Bengali oil of choice is mustard oil. I can’t stand it!

Process:

  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add dry red chillies once the oil is hot
  • Let it splutter, add bay leaves
  • Let it crackle, add the black onion seeds
  • Add onion and stir till they turn translucent
  • Add potatoes (which should already be soft)
  • Add poppy paste
  • Add spices and a tea spoon of salt
  • Throw in the green chillies
  • Stir. Should be done in 5 minutes. Add a bit of water of the potatoes are hard

I like to dry the dish at the end and prefer the potatoes to have a slight edge or crunch. Ideally the potatoes should look braised. There are other versions which are slightly more soupy or squishy. I don’t like them

This is best enjoyed with steamed rice. You can also have them with rotis or plain parathas. There is nothing to stop you from having them with bread or by itself either.

It is addictive. You have been warned.

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16 Comments

Filed under Bengali food, Recipes

16 responses to “>That Seventies Show: Alu Posto

  1. >i know – it is so addictive…good one!

  2. >Hey! Alu posto has to be accompanied with "kalayer daal"! Heh heh – trust a pure ghoti when it comes to posto – and we all get so passionate about the topic… πŸ™‚

  3. >Dear KalyanThis is a great recipe and well researched and practised one. I apprciate the fusion you have brought in with onion and a strong spice cumin and bay leaf. I did not graduate beyond the old classical version of simple posto and green chili paste with a Nigela seasoning.I must try this soon.Have a good day

  4. S

    >oh…thank you thank you! this just brought back memories of countless summer afternoons spent reading story books during the vacations after a heavenly lunch of biulir dal (kalaier dal as shaswatidi said), aloo posto, bhat, lebur achar and postor bora.the version my mother made was also dry, not squishy, though she used either onion and ginger or nigella, depending on how purely vegetarian she wanted the dish to be. now i'm all inspired to make some biulir dal and aloo posto myself. hope mine turns out looking as nice as yours does. thanks again πŸ™‚

  5. >Thanks Somoo, good to hear from yu after agesShaswati as a Bangal who adds a bit of sugar in food I too agree that alu posto rice flowers with a bit of yellow daal. we have moong or mooshur though. On a separate note, non Bongs might confuse Kolai with Kalyan :)S, I am sure it will. This pic looks nice because I took it in the morning before I left for work. must also say that my maid made it and not me.Amazing how food brings back memories. Hope you make it soon and relive a bit of Calcutta in Mumbai. What is posto bora? Just posto or anything inside it?Dear Ushnish,Thanks for writing in. I must confess, and have put a disclaimer, that most of the recipes here are not 'classical'. Most of my recipes are instinctive and would make the purist wince πŸ™‚ A bit like Sehwag huh?

  6. S

    >Ma typically made posto bora from the posto bata prepared in excess of what is required for the aloo posto/jhinge posto, so there were never any exact measurements and it was a little bit of this and some of that. One would generally add finely sliced onion, finely chopped green chillies, some grated ginger and salt to taste to the posto bata, mix all this together and drop it in batches into hot oil, fry on medium heat until cooked and you're good to go!

  7. >I've always felt that Indians know how to do potatoes.

  8. >Dear KalyanThats what I am appreciating, cook what we or others love to eat!!!See my latest posting on who is a cook and what are we !! ( under cabbage , peasUllash ( cheers)

  9. >Can't stay away from good food snaps even when on a vacation πŸ™‚ … the alu posto does look perfect. I like the slightly mushy version. You don't know what is a posto bora? Check out my post on it. πŸ™‚

  10. >S, Sharmila…thanks for telling me about posto bora. Must definitely try it. Coincidentally I reached the posto section of Chitrita Banerjee's Traditions and Kitchens of Bengal.Interestingly she uses onion in her alu posto :)Sharmila, vacation means no cooking?Jessica we are fans of potatoes across the country. The joke is that potatoes aren't indigenous to India and were introduced a couple of centuries backDear Ushnish,Cooking is fun when one enjoys it. I will definitely check out your post.CheersKalyan

  11. >I hate the soupy versions, yewwwBut I usually make it niramish, no onionBongMom

  12. >yay Sandeepa (bong mom) I like it firm and soft inside which the boiling helps.I have not had a very traditional Bong upbringing and didn't realise that onions were niramish till I read Chitrita Banerjee's book yesterday. Like the Jains I guessPotatoes and onions are my favourite veggies

  13. >This is new to me but sounds delicious and interesting!Merry Christmas and Happy holidays:)

  14. >Thanks Mythreyi and Merry Christmas

  15. k

    >you know what's easier then making aloo posto? finishing it:)

  16. >That K is the long and short of it. Couldn't have summed up the post better πŸ™‚

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